Highgate

Monday

Last weekend Tanner and I went to see The Darjeeling Limited. Let me first say, that although this gal considers herself a loyal Wes Anderson fan, I admit to being pretty darn disappointed with The Life Aquatic. So much so that sitting there in the theatre, waiting for the lights to dim, munching excitedly on a melted twix and buttered popcorn, was making me downright nervous. What if he's just a three hit wonder? What if that signature formula is nothing more than a series of pretty songs and uniform outfits? I thought, can someone, even someone as talented as Mr. Anderson, top a film as painstakingly perfect as The Royal Tenenbaums?

Well maybe he didn't top it, but he sure as heck is back in the ballpark. The Darjeeling Limited is a beautiful film Wes Anderson. Simply put sir, a beautiful film. And part of what makes it so beautiful (outside of Robert Yeoman's brilliant cinematography) is it's ability to exist within Anderson's established world, while creating a palpable environment all its own. An environment that's not afraid to be more spiritual and exploratory than its siblings, without shying from the subtlety and tenderness we've all come to expect from Anderson's films.

This is the story of three brothers Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrian Brody), and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) who, at Francis' insistence, meet on the the Darjeeling Limited, to travel across India, gain some enlightenment, and reconnect with eachother. The acting is excellent all around, with my favorite performance award going to Adrian Brody. Don't get me wrong, some of that has to do with his scrumptious bone structure and height (what a dish!) but each main actor, Wilson, Schwartzman, and Brody, perfectly embody their roles. This enables Anderson's inumerable nuances about familial relationships to shine through in their delicate, however obvious manner. thanks to the clever writing team of Anderson, Schwartzman, and CQ directing-Sofia brothering Roman Coppola, The Darjeeling Limited is also a bit of a hoot! Not only is the delicious deadpan of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore played in spades, Anderson throws in unexpected sight gags. Somehow, in his way, Wes has borrowed from Buster Keaton and Groucho Marx which not only works, but tickles me pink! Like any successful comedy however, this film very deftly tows the tenuous line between comic and tragic, giving it the type of depth that makes you want to watch it again and again.

Why is this film not as spectacular as The Royal Tenenbaums despite my paragraph plus of praise? Well, the pace for one. While it's fitting for the type of road story that Anderson is telling, there an almost nagging sensation of where are we heading? Take that as you will, good or bad. Personally I was eager to learn about these characters and rarely caught myself saying, ok, where is this going. I also believe this film is slightly less cohesive than its more successful predecessors. This Darjeeling relies just a little too heavily on the Anderson formula to stand as tall and proud on its own as i might like it to.

Go see this movie. It's not often these days that Hollywood makes films with as much thought, intelligence, and downright tender loving care put into each frame, each line, each costume detail. and even if this movie doesn't quite meet all the expectations of Anderson's fans, look at what we're comparing it to. One of the best films of the last century? For every Taxi Driver there is a Raging Bull, every Annie Hall a Manhattan, exceptional films with great follow-ups. The Darjeeling Limited is a great film, but perhaps not Anderson's best. my dearest hope is that it's still to come.

-Jenny

10 comments:

jay said...

Great review Jenny!

My hope is that Anderson someday adapts Sallinger's "Franny and Zooey" for the big screen. It seems like a movie he was born to make, as he seems to be intrigued with upper middle class, white urban eccentricities.

Jennifer said...

Thank you Jay - I appreciate that!

Have to admit, I was a little nervous writing the review AND having a guest post on Highgate, so your comment is happily received.

I will say that Tan Tan did make a little edit however. Namely my calling him Tan Tan in the opening line. Namely - oh ha ha, a pun for you Tan Tan, Lover of Puns!

Flatlander said...

Nice review. I had already wanted to see it but that fired up my appetite for it even more.

Flatlander said...

Oh, and thank you for not posting any pictures of stuff that came out of your ears.

Tanner M. said...

i resent that remark... i'll have you know that post pushed me over the 100 unique page views for that day. For the first time ever.

Give the people what they want is my credo. Ear Wax.

Jennifer said...

flatlander,

i do hope you enjoy the movie and am glad to hear that this review helped add flame to the fire in your belly to see it. it's nice to get comments!

as far as not posting about my ear wax, you're welcome. i'm a fanatic ear cleaner, so pictures of my findings would be disappointing in comparison anyway.

casey said...

I want to agree with your assessment, but alas, I cannot. The second half was fairly profound, but the first. . . Was that shit supposed to be funny? I found it interminable.

Anderson needs to find a writer to match his cinematographic vision. He used to have it in Owen Wilson. But wee Schwarzman ain't got what it takes. Nor does the other spoiled scion, Roman Coppola.

Sigh. Guess there'll always be Tenenbaums.

I still liked your post.

casey said...

I want to agree with your assessment, but alas, I cannot. The second half was fairly profound, but the first. . . Was that shit supposed to be funny? I found it interminable.

Anderson needs to find a writer to match his cinematographic vision. He used to have it in Owen Wilson. But wee Schwarzman ain't got what it takes. Nor does the other spoiled scion, Roman Coppola.

Sigh. Guess there'll always be Tenenbaums.

I still liked your post.

the le duo said...

now i must see it.

michelle said...

i was so distracted by adrien brody's hotness and the beauty of the landscape that i can't really say anything critically about it (nor do i care to). i think wes's films are all pretty much the same, so it's more a matter of preference/non-preference for his style and themes. i tend to like them, especially the humor.